Kids and Christmas Decorations

Each year of my life, before I had children, I eagerly anticipated busting out the Christmas decorations. I was raised on it!

My Mom would seemingly (and maybe actually!) take every decoration in our home and replace it with something red and green and merry.  As a teenager, I just loved the onslaught. We would bring in like umpteen boxes, open them all up, crank on the Christmas music, and we would dance, be silly, and Christmas would explode all over our house. It was awesome and I loved it.

Now, as a mother, Christmas is still so sweet and full of my own family’s traditions and fun memories, but the decorating has slid into the category, along with activities that were so much fun as a child, like going to the swimming pool and taking vacations. The category of, as a grown-up, activities that are a lot of work.

What I have discovered about things like vacationing, swimming, and Christmas decorating is that these are the things where memories are made. I can’t remember all the day in/day out happenings of my childhood, but I can recall so many great memories of Christmases, vacations, and trips to the pool.

As a mom, I have to remind myself over and over that all the hard work is worth it. So over the past 8 years of Christmases with children, I have found some things that have helped in getting the decorations done while maintaining some level of sanity! I thought I would share them in hopes that they might bring you some relief to your decorating – or maybe just some smiles at my anal tendencies.

1. I learned this tip from the dear Suzy Lea, the woman who, with the exception of my mother, influenced me most as a mother and wife. She has 5 boys and a less than tidy husband and yet Suzy loves things beautifully decorated. So at Christmas time, she would have one tree for her – pretty and all coordinating. Cliff, her husband, and the boys would have another tree that was theirs to decorate as they saw fit. I saw it one year where all the beads and ornaments were sloppily placed all on one side of the tree. I thought it was so cute.

I quickly discovered I would need to do a kid tree also. I would get a bit stressed about not having all the ornaments evenly spread out, or having all the kids’ super cute (and non-coordinating) handmade ornaments dispersed with my sparkly red, green, and white ornaments.  So, we got a little tree for my kids ornaments.  As I hovered over them this year, while they may or may not have evenly spaced their ornaments, I kept reminding myself, “This is their tree. Let them do it how they want.”

2. Over the years I have also learned that I like to be in my own decorating zone when I am putting up the tree. I get overwhelmed when the kids want to help me decorate the pretty tree.

[side note here: I feel a bit embarrassed that I am admitting all these things to so many people, but I am certain that there are others out there who find all this “fun stuff” a bit stress-inducing. I realize it seems like I just need to take a chill-pill. But fight it as I may, this is how I’m built. My household is much happier if I work with me instead of against myself. I’m just keepin’ it real!]

So I make sure to put up the kid’s tree first so they can get all their ornaments out and do their decorating and memory making without me getting all frustrated.

3. I also recommend starting with the kids’ toys. They can be playing with all the “new” bounty while you escape to your decorating zone.

4. Another helpful hint: if you have Christmas toys for your kids, remember the whole purpose of the toys is to be played with.

We have a super-cute assortment of kid-friendly nativity scenes.

Fisher Price

Nesting Nativity

Playmobil

Precious Moments

I get caught up in placing them all so sweetly, with Precious Moment’s Mary holding baby Jesus and each Wise Man set-up by his matching camel, etc.

Then when one of my children tries to come play with it and I find myself blurting out, “Don’t touch that.” Oh wait – they are made to be played with. Good-job Shawn.

So each time I’m cleaning up the living room, I don’t spend 15 minutes arranging the nativity scenes just as they should be because they are just going to get messed-up, I mean played-with. I just place them all on the shelf they go on and leave it at that. That way, when the kids are playing with them and little pieces are going all over the place, I don’t struggle internally (as much)!

Another side note: it always helps me gain perspective to listen to Junior Asparagus’s song “Was He A Boy Like Me?” from Veggie Tales The Incredible Singing Christmas Tree. It’s about a boy playing with his nativity scene which makes him wonder if Jesus was a boy like him. Seriously I’m almost crying just typing it here!

Take a listen and grab a kleenex:

5. Something I have done over the last few years is to write myself notes for the year to follow. So on my calendar or in the Christmas boxes, I’ll have a note that says – “Start with the kids tree and toys first.” “Decorate the cookies before Christmas Eve, it was too much for you to do last year.” etc. I mean, if you’ve learned something that benefits you and your family, don’t make yourself relearn it again the next year.

6. Also, cut yourself some slack. I did not do much decorating in the years I either had a newborn, was sick at the beginning of a pregnancy, or just in maxed-out-status from caring for so many little people!

You do not have to have decorations to celebrate Christmas. If putting up a tree brings too much stress into your household, then it’s not worth it. Save the tree for next year – they are young, they won’t remember not having a tree on their first (or 2nd or 3rd) Christmases. By the time they are old enough to remember, you will have enough energy to do it – and many wonderful memories will be made.

I say often, I don’t want my kids Christmas memories to be of me getting stressed and raising my voice! Since that seems to be my tendency, I have to access some tools to make it a more pleasant experience for us all!

So I hope this helps some of you! We’d all benefit from any other tips you have discovered for kids and Christmas decorations, so please share! Happy Decorating.

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tamra
    Dec 03, 2010 @ 09:56:30

    GREAT post Shawn! I can feel myself taking a deep breath as I read this post. So much truth in the fact that decorating, shopping, baking, any of it is not worth stress. I’m really working on this this year. And I had no idea you had so many nativities!!

    Reply

  2. Ana
    Dec 03, 2010 @ 11:24:08

    Hi

    Reply

  3. Kedra
    Dec 03, 2010 @ 13:32:35

    This was so encouraging to me, Shawn. We have yet to even get the Christmas things out of the attic and I am feeling guilty that it was not up the day after Thanksgiving. Haha! I have been crazy busy with a fundraising project but that will be slowing down soon. So here’s to “one of those seasons”. 🙂 Thanks for this, Friend.

    Reply

  4. tammy
    Dec 05, 2010 @ 12:58:03

    Shawn, i’ve enjoyed reading your blogs. it is so true. i still remember putting up the Christmas tree when i was a little girl. i’ll always remember this one special candle that was only seen at Christmas time. it was a beautiful blue with some kind of a white snow looking stuff all over it and had a hole carved out in it and in there was a beautiful small glitter covered manger. i loved that candle.

    Reply

  5. Sondra
    Dec 08, 2010 @ 00:02:57

    Thank yo uso much for this…my boys love to touch the tree (which translate pulling everything off!) I am actually very excited about going and getting them their own tree this year! Great idea! And we have already decorated cookies (several times)…I save time and energy by picking up some you can just bake then decorate…helps get to the fun stuff faster!!! I am enjoying you blog very much!

    Reply

  6. Keri Sheckler
    Dec 09, 2010 @ 14:26:14

    Found your blog! I will be a reader.

    Reply

  7. Nicole
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 09:39:49

    Oh wow this is a great and TIMELY post! Just when I was considering taking all of my lovely decorations away (i.e. to be put in the closet so they don’t get broken by little people), I am now encouraged that it’s gonna be okay. =)

    I’m going to write myself a note for next year – Get LOTS of Christmas toys at after Christmas sales for my boys to play with. Preferably durable and not pretty ones that I won’t stress about them breaking. =)

    Reply

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